Drivers delivering to Amazon claim they were instructed to manipulate working time

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Three Eastern European truckers have told The Guardian what their work at companies delivering to Amazon centres looks like. They claim that manipulation and violations are part of their daily business. The story prompted both their employers and the e-commerce giant to swiftly address the truckers’ allegations.

Truck drivers delivering to Amazon distribution centres across Europe have confessed to The Guardian that they were instructed to tamper with tachographs. This was to extend the working time allowed by EU regulations. Such practice puts not only the workers themselves but also other traffic participants at risk.

In addition, as stated by truckers Olek Shevchenko from Ukraine, Arip Sidikkhodja from Uzbekistan and Ihar Peratoka from Belarus, their wages are being withheld, in violation of the carriers’ obligations to Amazon regarding working conditions in the supply chain. According to the declaration of the e-commerce giant, a company worth approx. $1.7tn, all its suppliers are obliged to pay their drivers fair and on-time wages for appropriate working hours. 

The men each allege similar abuses while working on Amazon deliveries for Hegelmann, a group of several transport companies. Companies in the group function as separate legal entities. Hegelmann’s Lithuanian company owns a fleet of 700 trucks and employs the drivers on Lithuanian contracts, explains The Guardian. It buses them to western Europe where they then make multinational deliveries for Amazon, as well as other European retailers, in the name of a Hegelmann company registered in Germany. The Dutch transport workers’ union VNB confirmed the allegations and said Hegelmann had repeatedly featured in its own investigations, with workers from several countries making similar allegations about tachograph records and withheld wages.

However, Hegelmann group’s owner and CEO, Siegfried Hegelmann, said the company does not condone any malpractice and would investigate any alleged cases of cheating of tachographs. 

We will deal with any situation in accordance with all relevant legal acts, and are cooperating with institutions responsible,” he added in a statement for the British newspaper.

A spokesperson for Amazon ensured that the company takes immediate action if it finds that partners are not complying with  Amazon’s supplier code of conduct, which focuses on appropriate working conditions of drivers. 

According to the Guardian, Amazon is in the process of severing its contractual arrangements with Hegelmann.

We work with a variety of haulier partners to get packages around our logistics network and these allegations in no way reflect the high standards we hold our partners to,” Amazon added, pointing out that Hegelmann also works for other retailers and represents a small part of Amazon’s business.